ADDISON COUNTY — The first Monday in April ushered in a new era for Middlebury municipal employees, who began working in the new, expansive town office building at 77 Main St. It was a key moment in a series of events in 2016 that helped transform the southern end of the shiretown’s downtown.
Voters in 2014 OK’d a $6.5 million plan to build the new, 9,400-square-foot town office building at 77 Main and a new, 11,400-square-foot recreation facility off Creek Road that had opened a few months earlier. Middlebury College agreed to underwrite $4.5 million of the construction costs in return for the land at 94 Main St., the home of the 105-year-old old municipal building and town gym; the college also got another town-owned parcel at 6 Cross St. In June the college tore down the old buildings at 94 Main and began to landscape the site as a park. By the end of the fall the area was ready to welcome visitors to Middlebury’s newest green space. Residents were justifiably proud of the spiffy new town office on the downtown rotary, and they voted for the first time in the new town rec. facility on Election Day.
And Middlebury wasn’t they only Addison County town to see a prominent change in its landscape.
After more than a decade of looking for a solution to its century-old firehouse, the Bristol Fire Department in early July opened a brand spanking new fire station on West Street right at the entrance to the village. The roughly 11,000-square-foot building is large enough to host all of the department’s various apparatus, and provide meeting space and a few other amenities. It even came in a little under the $3.19 million budget.
The department had been working out of three buildings for decades, and for the past 18 months out of four, meeting monthly in the Bristol American Legion Post. No longer will there be running around to find needed equipment or information, or the need to make decisions and then send personnel to go after trucks and equipment in emergency situations.
With the fire station well on its way to becoming a reality, Bristol residents in May passed a $1.1 million water bond. The bond was essential to Bristol being able to move ahead with a proposed business park behind the new fire station — look for news on that front in 2017.
Municipal employees and town residents also welcomed a new town garage in Starksboro in late May. The 7,800-square-foot garage just north of the town’s Route 116 fire station is built like a high-tech-steel post-and-beam barn.
The $1.69 million garage boasts seven bays, enough to hold the town’s trucks with room to grow. It also offers water, a storage mezzanine, foreman’s office, meeting room, kitchen, eyewash station, shower, and sensors for carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide. As a bonus, it is much more energy efficient — though twice the size of the old garage, it will be cheaper to heat.
In the Little City, major renovations were wrapping up at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes’ School Street headquarters in October. As well as a needed facelift, the work included a full kitchen that will allow the youth club to expand its meals program and cooking classes.
And up in Lincoln, the town late in the year completed a new town office that more than doubles the old one’s size, increasing the square footage from 950 to 2,000. Placed on the same footprint as the old office, the new building faced south so that it would be flooded with lots of natural light.